NEW PORT RICHEY — Ridgewood High's girls weightlifting team has a nickname for Michelle Gorski: It's “Hulk.”
But given Gorski's 4-foot-11, 93-pound stature, it's a sarcastic but loving name.
The Rams senior, however, competes in the 101-pound weight class and recently took fifth place at the Disparti Weightlifting Invitational on Dec. 13 at River Ridge. Gorski had an 85-pound bench press and a 105-pound clean and jerk for a 190 total.
And just in her second year of lifting and Ridgewood coach J.D. Baker said he believes that if Gorski had lifted all four years, “Hulk” would be a state champion. But for now, Gorski is stronger than she looks and setting her sights on the FHSAA Girls Weightlifting State Meet on Feb. 8 in Kissimmee.
“Michelle is one of the nicest, most hard-working kids that I have ever been around,'' Baker said. “She's a class act, period. She's 90 pounds and leads by example. Each week, she has added five pounds, which is phenomenal. I'm hoping for states in the last year.”
Baker is happy “Hulk” is on his team because of her leadership, maturity shown with a 4.3 GPA and her involvement with the Interact Club and the Rams track and field team, where she, surprisingly, jumps hurdles.
“We have done real well,” Baker added. “She is a delight to have at Ridgewood. She was voted “Most Outstanding Senior” and to do hurdles in track at 4-foot-11 — that's rare.
“She's just awesome. She's a great kid.”
If “Hulk” can get to state, Gorski may be one of the more amazing stories in girls weightlifting. So why does “Hulk” lift?
“I love the feeling of accomplishment,” Gorski said. “I love being with the team but it's also an individual achievement.”
Gorski also enjoys seeing surprising people when she mentions she's a weightlifter.
“They are a little shocked,” she added. “I had to work a lot (to develop her physical strength). I shock a lot of people (with her strength). My coach convinced me to do it and I am happy because I love weightlifting. (Coach is) always there to talk to us. He's a coach and a father figure. If I talk myself down, he will say 'don't say that.'”
Correspondent Larry Bugg can be reached at email@example.com.